FM: Hungary hopes peace can prevail over the “war psychosis” in Europe

Hungary believes in the need for connectivity and cooperation based on mutual respect and benefits.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary is hopeful that common sense can one day overcome dogmatism in foreign policy and that the desire for peace can prevail over the “war psychosis” in Europe.

Addressing a panel discussion at the Global Energy Security Talks conference in Tokyo, Minister Szijjártó said that with Hungary having “lost forty years” under oppression from the East and after being “neglected” by the West during the Cold War, its government was “super concerned” about the potential re-emergence of geopolitical blocs. Hungary believes in the need for connectivity and cooperation based on mutual respect and benefits, he said, according to a ministry statement. Though Hungary was in no way responsible for the war in Ukraine, he said, it was paying “a pretty high price” for it. Hungary, he added, was carrying out its largest-ever humanitarian operation since the start of the war and had taken in many refugees. Meanwhile, he said the country’s annual energy spending of 7 billion euros had shot up to 17 billion, accounting for 5-6% of GDP. He said Hungary condemned the war from the start, and the disagreements were about how to broker peace in Ukraine. He said the Western strategy had failed, arguing that the conflict should have been isolated instead of being globalised and that the decisions on sanctions and weapons deliveries had also failed. Hungary’s position, he said, went against the European liberal mainstream, but aligned with that of the majority on a global level. He said the sanctions had intended to “bring Russia to its knees”, but it was the European economy that was hurting because of the 13 sanctions packages approved by the European Union.

Minister Szijjártó said Hungary was the only NATO country that had not sent weapons to Ukraine, which he said had proven to be the right decision, arguing that the weapons deliveries had clearly demonstrated that the war could not be resolved on the battlefield. He urged peace talks, saying the conflict could only be settled through diplomacy. Szijjártó said many ethnic Hungarians have died in the fighting, “while no Dutch, no Luxembourgish, no Danish, no Swedish people have died, thank God”. “We Hungarians do not want more Hungarians to die in this war, and generally speaking, we Hungarians don’t want more people to die in this war,” he said. He noted that after the start of the war Hungary had offered to host peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and this offer still stood. Szijjártó said it was “not easy nowadays to represent this kind of position” in the transatlantic community because a rational approach was usually met with being labelled “a propagandist of the Kremlin, a spy of the Russians or a friend of Putin”, and this left no room for rational dialogue. He underscored the importance of strengthening the pro-peace position, especially after the assassination attempt on Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, “the other prime minister in Europe who is in favour of peace”. He warned against what he called increasingly “crazy” remarks from European politicians on, for example, sending Western troops to Ukraine or the use of nuclear weapons, which increased the risk of escalation. Szijjártó also warned against an “attempt to erase” NATO’s previous red line that said the alliance was not party to the war in Ukraine and that everything possible had to be done to prevent a direct confrontation with Russia. He said the reason why European leaders were sticking to their “dangerous” decisions was that they did not want to be held politically responsible for their failed strategy. But Hungarians, he added, still believed in a diplomatic solution, which required diplomacy, communication channels and dialogue. Szijjártó said it was also important to talk to those with whom one had disagreements, noting that he had condemned and called for an end to the war in Ukraine at the Russian Energy Week forum in Moscow. “We still do have the hope that once common sense will win over dogmatism in foreign policy and we have the hope that once the desire for peace will take over the war psyche in Europe,” he said.